Andrea Belag: New Paintings
Mike Weiss Gallery March 24 – April 21, 2007
With New Paintings Andrea Belag makes it clear how much she grows with each new exhibition. Four years on from the last time I saw her work (at the Bill Maynes Gallery) she has reinvented her practice yet again, giving us some of the most accomplished, not to mention downright beautiful, painting to be seen anywhere. She’s filled her new exhibition at Mike Weiss Gallery with eleven lush canvases that smolder in your thoughts long after the time they spent in front of your face.
Belag has always been able to wield her spellbinding painterly chops with ease and confidence, creating loosely formal compositions that are so deft in terms of color and gesture that I almost feel guilty in the amount of pleasure I get from them. They also slide along that thread of abstraction that allows meaning and interpretation to unfold and shift. With a stroke of her brush Belag can conjure a myriad of associations and moods, from the coppery sheen of rolling auburn hair to moonlight on a lake, while all the time reminding us that it’s nothing more than pigment and medium on canvas. There is a unique beauty to this kind of experience, one that envelops us mentally and optically and doesn’t dictate its meaning.
Her past work often consisted of loose, grid-like compositions made from varying vertical and horizontal bands of luminous, translucent color. Some of the brushstrokes are full-bodied articulations of movement, while others lie quietly transparent, barely seen. These earlier compositions evoke architectonic structures and at times windows into a fulsome world of light and movement. The new paintings, however, are a departure. What once seemed to cater to a modernist mindset has given way to a new painterly space. It’s much more perplexing than her earlier work, and far riskier.
There’s a certain comfort in the grid. We can never really get lost in it; take a few turns here and there and you’re back where you started—at the holy structure of modernist thought. Belag’s paintings now resonate with an oddly lateral perspective that’s left the grid behind. The majority of their surfaces are sectioned vertically, in groups of two to four segments that often bleed and blend into one another. In their verticality they suggest a space that’s capable of harboring a human body, or ripe for physical interaction. Without the grounding of horizontal bands, we’re left to float, trying to fix a position from which to proceed. In “Awash” and “Shadow of Doubt” there are thin, branchlike brushstrokes running horizontally across part of the surface of the painting, often mixing into and interfering with the bold, lucent brushy grounds of color that surround them. They read like small efforts in the face of inevitability, the subtle studied gestures of a lost conversation.
In the painting “Great Intentions,” color is allowed to mix and flow unlike anything we’ve seen from her before. There is a passage near the center of the painting where a brilliant area of deep blue slides into a section of burnt orange. With a few sleepy movements of her brush, Belag again summons pure visual pleasure, like watching cigarette smoke roll lazily through the air. All this is to say that the artist has figured a way out of her own common territory without seeming studied or fake. She’s pushed herself into a new location where the old familiars have fallen away. There’s no grid to guide us now, so we’re left to wander, lost in her hazy, saturated world. It’s a place I don’t mind being, and one that feels strangely at home.
Craig Olson is a former student of Thomas Nozkowski and regular contributor to the Rail. He is also an artist who lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Robert C. Morgan: The Loggia Paintings: Early and Recent WorkBy Jonathan Goodman
NOV 2022 | ArtSeen
Intellectual, critic, and art historian Robert C. Morgan also makes paintings, and has been doing so for most of his long career. The current show, on view in the large, high-ceilinged main space of the Scully Tomasko Foundation, consists of a series of drawings called Living Smoke and Clear Water: small, mostly black-and-white works, of both an abstract expressionist and calligraphic nature (early on in life, Morgan studied with a Japanese calligrapher).
Out of (This) Time — Brief Notes from “Astrodoubt and the Quarantine Chronicles”By Luca Buvoli
SEPT 2021 | Critics Page
I had just returned to New York from a month traveling in India, where I had enjoyed rediscovering, among other things, the power of narration in visual arts (in the carvings in Hindu temples, in miniature paintings, etc.) and of a mythology and conception of time outside the Newtonian one. This was a couple of weeks before Covid-19 arrived in the US and I was working on one of the 180 ideas/projects that comprise Space Doubt, a work conceived as a ten-year expedition started thanks to a collaboration that I developed with NASA scientists and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., exploring an idea enabling me to find the courage to use some dark humor about my aggressive and advanced cancer of a few years agoluckily and hopefully curedand cancer in general.
Robert C. Morgan: The Loggia Paintings: Early and Recent WorkBy Raphy Sarkissian
NOV 2022 | ArtSeen
Severe yet expressive, hermetic yet lucid, circumspect yet luxuriant, the geometric abstractions painted by Robert C. Morgan are absorbing explorations of form.
Brenda Goodman: Hop Skip JumpNew Work 2022By Andrew L. Shea
MARCH 2023 | ArtSeen
These paintings work not in the realm of intellect, but that of feeling. Goodmans is a formalism that is never escapist or hermetic, but instead tied to an encyclopedic spectrum of human emotions, including terror, despondency, anger, hope, joy, even love. As she prepares to enter her ninth decade, Goodman has once again come upon a new abstract language that, somehow, remains intimately in touch with those important realities.